From Astrapia to Zosterops

I like bird books. A lot. Some say it’s wonderful to have an extensive ornithological library at your fingertips. Others say “you bought them, you move them into the new place”. While it’s true that a Rubbermaid tote full of books is a heavy beast, most of the contained weight is from all the dreams and hopes that lie on each page. Will I ever see a Subdesert Mesite in person? I don’t know, but at least I can read about it for now.  Well, ok, I may not have the time right now to read about it, or any of the other Malagasy wonders, but one day when I want to I know I can. It’s in that spirit that the pilgrimage to find yet another bookshelf has become an annual event in our house. The Helm guides to specific bird families are all together on one bookcase, while the regional field guides live on another. Recently, however, there has been a disturbance in the force. With shelf space at a premium in our rental suite, I’ve had to sit back in silent protest while things like “The Birds of Northern Melanesia” get replaced with titles such as “Panda Bear, Panda Bear, What do you see?”.  I’ll tell you one thing right now, that panda bear does not see Zosterops vellavella, or any other Melanesian endemics (though admittedly he does rack up an intriguing species list)!  Sure, children’s literary classics are all fine and dandy, but I can’t help think that maybe a few of these books need to be rewritten. There’s nothing new in learning that “A” is for apple, but think of all the fun that ensues learning that “A” is actually for Astrapia. And please, “The Cat in the Hat” has been done to death, but the “Emu in the Shoe” is sure to educate and entertain the whole family!

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